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SHRM - State Ballot Initiatives May Impact the Workplace

September 19, 2016

Source: Society for Human Resource Management

By Lisa Nagele-Piazza

This election season, employers should keep informed about state ballot initiatives that may impact the workforce—such as minimum-wage increases and marijuana legalization.

"Some big items have stalled in Congress, and advocates are looking for other ways to pursue those interests," said Ilyse Schuman, an attorney with Littler in Washington, D.C.

Ballot initiatives allow citizens to vote on certain measures that are usually determined by the state legislature or local government. After a petition is signed by a minimum number of registered voters, a measure is put on the ballot for a public vote.

SHRM - IRS Sets 2017 HSA Contribution Limits

May 2, 2016

Source: Society for Human Resource Management

By Stephen Miller


Aside from a modest increase of $50 in the amount that individuals may contribute annually to their health savings accounts (HSAs) for self-only coverage, next year’s HSA-related limits are holding firm.


In Revenue Procedure 2016-28, issued April 29, the IRS provided the inflation-adjusted HSA contribution limits effective for calendar year 2017, along with minimum deductible and maximum out-of-pocket expenses for the high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) that HSAs are coupled with.


These rate changes reflect cost-of-living adjustments, if any, and rounding rules under Internal Revenue Code Section 223.

SHRM - Buying Lottery Tickets with Colleagues- What Could Go Wrong

January 13, 2016

Source: Society for Human Resource Management

By Kathy Gurchiek


The gravitational pull of the $1.5 billion Powerball drawing on Jan. 13 is attracting even people who don’t typically play the lottery. And, in some cases, employees are pooling their resources with the promise of splitting the windfall from a winning ticket.


That’s not such a great idea from an employer perspective, according to Meredith Biggs, who specializes in employment law for the law firm Gunster in West Palm Beach, Fla. Organizations are the ones who lose because of an exodus of suddenly rich employees who no longer need jobs. Or the workplace becomes a war zone as employees likely end up suing each other, she told SHRM Online.


“That’s obviously not going to be good for your workplace.”


It’s not common for groups of people to win the lottery, but there tends to be litigation when it does happen, she noted.

Smaller Hikes in Health Premium Rates Forecast for 2016

September 22, 2015

Source: Society for Human Resource Management


Compared to the steep spikes in health plan premiums seen in years past, rate increases for 2016 will remain relatively modest for most medical plan options, although still outpacing overall inflation as represented by the consumer price index (CPI).


But costs will increase substantially for prescription drug coverage, hitting double-digit rates, according to forecasts based on recent health cost trend surveys.


The 2016 Segal Health Plan Cost Trend Survey report, released in September 2015, captured data on cost projections for large U.S. group health plan sponsors before any plan design changes have been made. The survey examined 2016 projected medical cost trends as reported by major health insurance firms by service type.




Use of Video for Recruiting Continues to Grow

August 24, 2015

Source: Society for Human Resource Management

By Roy Maurer


Unable to interview a job candidate face to face? Video interviewing is the next best thing, according to 75 percent of respondents to a survey on the use of video in recruiting.


Futurestep, a Korn Ferry company specializing in recruitment process outsourcing and professional search, polled 700 executives in June 2015. Nearly three-fourths of their companies are currently using real-time video platforms to interview leading candidates and 50 percent use video interviews as a way to narrow the candidate pool, survey results revealed.


“Employers can now connect with candidates via Skype and other video interviewing platforms, which opens up national and international talent pools that were inaccessible even several years ago,” said Brin McCagg, founder and CEO of RecruitiFi, a talent acquisition technology firm. “By supplanting the need for travel, these tools are having wide-reaching effects, from a company’s bottom line to their overall carbon footprint.” 

On-Call Shift Scheduling Subject to Increased Scrutiny

August 3, 2015

Source: Society for Human Resource Management

By Brett E. Coburn and Kandis Wood Jackson


Recent heightened scrutiny of certain employer scheduling practices may be a sign of an impending dramatic change in the way employers schedule their employees’ shifts. In recent months, state and federal officials, lawmakers and judges across the country have been increasingly critical of employers’ use of “on-call shifts”—that is, shifts that typically require employees to e-mail, text or call in to work prior to the start of a tentatively scheduled shift to find out if they actually need to report to work.


These shifts, critics say, risk running afoul of state reporting time pay laws (which require employees to be paid for a certain minimum number of hours just for reporting to work) and negatively affect employees. In light of growing public opinion criticizing the use of on-call shifts, as well as an uptick in state and federal proposals for “fair shift scheduling” legislation aimed at penalizing employers for their use of on-call shifts, employers should be prepared for an impending attack on this strategy of establishing employee work schedules.

Is the Annual Performance Review Dead?

July 31, 2015

Source: Society for Human Resource Management

By Dana Wilkie


The announcement by several high-profile companies that they are getting rid of annual performance reviews has sparked a national dialogue among HR professionals about the usefulness of such appraisals—and the alternatives available for deciding who gets pay raises, bonuses and promotions.

In the minds of some in the HR profession, “the annual performance review is dead,” said Jim Barnett, CEO and co-founder of Glint, which sells a cloud-based employee engagement tool.

“We’re in the early stages of a revolution,” he said. “A lot of companies are doing this … and I think over the next two years we’re going to see a profound shift in this area. Progressive HR leaders are realizing that they need continuous, real-time feedback and solutions.”

July 29, 2015

Source: Society for Human Resource Management

By Allen Smith


Republican senators wrote Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez on July 24, 2015, seeking an extension of the comment period on the department’s proposed overtime rule. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) made a similar request in a separate letter on July 21.


The comment period for the proposed rule is currently set to end Sept. 4, 2015.


Senators’ Letter


The Republican senators—led by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families; and Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety—noted in their letter that the Labor Department’s proposal is nearly three times as long as the agency’s 2003 proposal to amend the white-collar regulations.

E-Mail Curfew May Help Newly Nonexempt Employees Adjust

July 20, 2015

Source: Society for Human Resource Management

By Allen Smith


There will be a period of adjustment for employees if they are reclassified as nonexempt due to the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) proposed overtime rule, should it be finalized in its present form. In addition to establishing overtime policies, e-mail curfews can help newly nonexempt employees understand the types of work that now are off-limits, even though they were permitted in the past.


Overtime Policies


Some employers may not decide to adopt e-mail curfews, but instead opt to shore up their overtime policies.


Dena Sokolow, an attorney with Baker Donelson in Tallahassee, Fla., said that overtime policies need to address such off-duty tasks as:


Taking work home.

Making/receiving job-related phone calls at home.

Working through lunch.

Working before or after regular shifts.

Taking care of employer equipment.

Job-related “volunteer” work.


“Most exempt employees do not track their working hours and may regularly perform ‘off-duty’ work, without any thought of the time spent on those work-related tasks,” she noted. “Once these exempt employees become nonexempt, however, that off-duty communication can become compensable overtime.” 

Dropping (or Keeping) Domestic-Partner Benefits Has Ramifications

July 13, 2015

Source: Society for Human Resource Management

By Allen Smith


Now that same-sex couples can marry across the land, some employers are dropping benefits coverage for domestic partners. Employers should give notice if they decide to drop the benefits and must avoid discrimination claims either way, attorneys say.


Emerging Trend?


Verizon, Delta, IBM and Corning have either stopped, or announced they will stop, offering domestic-partner benefits, according to The New York Times.


Nevertheless, noted Bruce Elliott, SHRM-SCP, the Society for Human Resource Management’s manager of compensation and benefits, “I don’t see elimination of partner benefits as part of a larger trend.”


Summer Conley, an attorney with Drinker Biddle in Los Angeles, agreed, saying her clients are not dropping domestic-partner benefits.


However, others see employers dropping coverage as a likely outcome.


Joni Andrioff, an attorney with Steptoe & Johnson in Chicago, said it seems likely to her “that eventually employers will want to treat all married and unmarried participants alike, regardless of sex, and will do away with domestic-partner benefits.” 

Fair Labor Standards Act Overtime Regulations

June 30, 2015

Source: Society for Human Resource Management




The Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed changes to the overtime regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) have been officially released. SHRM is currently reviewing the proposal to ascertain the impact these changes to the overtime exemptions will have on workplaces across the country. In the meantime, please review the list below to prepare for what lies ahead and get ready to make your voice heard on behalf of the profession.


8 Things to Know about Proposed Overtime Regulations

  • Significant Impact. Employees and employers across every industry and sector will be impacted. Most employers covered by the FLSA will need to analyze employee classifications and make other changes, by a likely 2016 effective date which will be established in the final rule. According to DOL, 11 million employees will be impacted.

  • Salary Level Will Increase. To be exempt currently, workers must make more than $455/week ($23,660 annually). The proposed rule sets the standard salary level at the 40th percentile of weekly earnings for full-time salaried workers which for 2013 was $921 per week, or $47,892 annually. If the 40th percentile approach is adopted, the 2016 level is projected to be $970 a week, or $50,440 annually. This will impact all sectors but it will disproportionately affect the non-profit and service sector industries as well as certain geographic areas of the country.

Supreme Court Rules for EEOC in Religious Accommodation Case

June 1, 2015

Source: Society for Human Resource Management

By Allen Smith


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) won a significant victory June 1, 2015, for those alleging religious discrimination in a hiring case that involved retailer Abercrombie & Fitch’s refusal to hire an applicant whose headscarf, worn for religious reasons, did not conform to its dress code policy.


In an 8-1 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court held that an employer may not refuse to hire an applicant if the need for a religious accommodation is a motivating factor in the employer’s decision, unless accommodation would pose an undue hardship.


The court rejected Abercrombie's argument that it should be held responsible for providing accommodation only where a job applicant has explicitly informed the employer of his or her need for an accommodation.

The decision means that HR professionals should become especially familiar with their policies and discuss them with applicants to see if an accommodation might be needed, according to Andrew Hoag, an attorney with Fisher & Phillips in Los Angeles.


Anyone with authority to hire or fire should be trained on religious discrimination, added Michael Droke, an attorney with Dorsey & Whitney in Seattle.

Get Ready to Reclassify Workers Under Forthcoming FLSA Regs

March 24, 2015

Source: Society for Human Resource Management

By Stephen Miller


The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will soon unveil its proposal to dramatically limit job positions that can be classified as exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), advised Tammy McCutchen, former administrator of the DOL's Wage and Hour Division under President George W. Bush and an employment attorney with Littler.


McCutchen spoke at the Society for Human Resource Management's 2015 Employment Law & Legislative Conference, held in Washington, D.C., in March. She recalled that a year earlier President Barack Obama had declared that “Americans have spent too long working more and getting less in return,” and ordered Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to revise federal FLSA regulations so as to narrow the availability of exempt status, requiring that millions more employees be paid hourly and receive at least one and one-half times their regular rate of pay after 40 hours of work per workweek.

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